Concordia Winter 2023

Common Room was that it was almost certainly a printer! Those were the days when we reported frequently, moaned loudly and had our fair share of eccentrics, but there were very few jobsworths on board and despite the occasional elbows thrown and the trifling outbreaks of oneuppersonship there was also a great deal of mutual tolerance, respect and affection between colleagues: a warmth that extended to the senior team where Crispin Collier’s sharp eye for a charlatan put the kibosh on any ill–considered flights of managerial fancy while Tim Stubbs’s litmus test ("can we actually do it, will it work and is it worth it") provided a necessary counterweight to the culture of perpetual innovation that was hitting the profession amidships and driving teachers to head for the hills in droves. As a form teacher and tutor, I always looked forward to reading many of the reports. The standard was so high that it is invidious to pick out individual colleagues, so let me just say that personally I particularly enjoyed the urbane, languid elegance of Martin Drury, the passionate, caring voice of David Andrews, the sheer grip of Jonny Taylor, the indecipherable handwriting and perceptive comments of Thierry Rocher, the dry, acerbic wit of Paul Caira, the conspicuously civilized voice of Tony Booth and the effortless brilliance of Nigel Blight (paraphrasing, again from

Jon cut me enormous slack with my reports, for which I was extremely grateful. Only once over the decade did I get a flea in my ear. It was a report on one of the Manor boarders where I was trying gently to tease the boy into spending less time in the weights room and more on his prep, urging him to heed "the words of my favourite philosopher Zsa Zsa Gabor: men who try too hard to be macho usually aren’t much–o”. Jon handed it back to me in a crowded Rec Room in the Quarter with a good–natured but lethal admonishment that put me out for the count: “English is, I believe, the mother’s third or fourth language”! Looking back at it all now, what stands out is less the rear-guard, Rorke's Drift resistance offered by the Common Room ultras than the extraordinary willingness with which the vast majority of an already over–stretched Common Room embraced an IT revolution that was at once difficult, technical, and that also generated a tremendous amount of extra work. After barely more than a year, mails had been merged, subscript and superscript mastered, and clearing a paper jam become the work of a moment. Younger members of the 90s Common Room very much enjoyed the American rock band “Rage Against the Machine”. The band had never specified which machine it was that had provoked their wrath, but the consensus among

memory, “He will do better if I work harder”). MTS had, by any measure, an incredibly strong Common Room and one united by the belief that the quiet word of praise or reproof was the most important weapon in the teacher's arsenal. Our reports reflected that. Boys and parents, of course, read them all at a sitting and it was the overall impact of such a diverse range of styles ranging from the laconic, data-driven scientists and mathematicians to the flamboyant aesthetes of art and music that made the reports, viewed as a whole, such a compelling canvas. More than a simple diagnostic tool, they were an active spur to improvement. The school was on the up, and the boys’ rapidly improving results reflected that. We didn’t always get it right: some reports came over as cold and brusque, some jokes fell flat and some comments were made that, in the cold light of day, would have been better left unsaid, but slowly we learned to temper the school master’s traditional doting brutality with diplomacy and became more judicious in distributing our thunderbolts, learning to be sternest with those whom we held in the highest regard and with whom we had the strongest relationships. Nowadays one would do it differently, with less tough love and more wellbeing, more awareness of the pitfalls of making a joke at someone's expense, more tolerance, and more openness to


"MTS had, by any measure, an incredibly strong Common Room and one united by the belief that the quiet word of praise or reproof was the most important weapon in the teacher's arsenal. Our reports reflected that."

Made with FlippingBook Online newsletter creator